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Testing Calderdale’s response to flooding

Calderdale Council and its flood partner organisations recently rehearsed the actions they would take during and after a flood, to ensure the best possible preparation for any future incidents.

The first ‘response’ exercise involved Council staff and local flood wardens working together to practise opening flood hubs across Calderdale and to test radio and IT systems and operations in the immediate response to a flood.

During the second ‘recovery’ exercise, people from Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, the NHS and Yorkshire Ambulance Service got together to rehearse their response to a range of scenarios that might happen in the aftermath of a flood.

Cllr Susan Press, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, said; “Calderdale flood partners have now carried out five flood response and recovery exercises since the Boxing Day 2015 floods. It’s important to put responses to the test to help ensure Calderdale is as resilient as possible. The exercises have resulted in greater familiarity with the actions required and more streamlined processes to better prepare for any future incidents.”

Participants discussed a series of actions looking at infrastructure, business, flood hubs, community, health and business continuity. Tasks ranged from collecting and sharing data to helping residents find alternative accommodation.

During the hypothetical flood incident there was also a cold snap, testing the ability of the Council and other organisations to handle multiple incidents.

A report evaluating the exercises will identify the successes and lessons learned. The exercises support one of the key themes of the Vision2024 for Calderdale –resilience – by strengthening the borough’s ability to bounce back.

Like every year, a test was carried out by the Environment Agency’s Incident Team to check that the flood sirens are working, to complement the daily testing of the siren lines. However, the audibility test that is usually heard during the exercise is being planned for next year, in time to promote summer readiness.

Meanwhile, Calderdale residents, businesses and schools are being encouraged to do their bit to protect their property and family from possible flooding this winter. With flood incidents on the rise, an up-to-date flood plan is essential and it is also important to check that any flood resilience products are in good working order.

The joint #FloodHeroes campaign carried out by Calderdale Council and its partner organisations last month reminded people of the importance of being prepared and highlighted the work already done to improve flood resilience in the borough.

This was followed by the Environment Agency’s #JustOneThing social media campaign, where people were asked to post about the one thing they would save in a flood, and signposted to information on preparing for possible flooding.